5 Simple Ways to Get A Clean Driving Record
SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More
You can get or maintain a clean driving record by driving defensively and obeying traffic laws. Driving safely pays off: it helps prevent post-accident car repairs, lowers your insurance premiums and can qualify you for a safe driver discount. Adding entries to your driving record can result in fines, higher premiums and a suspended license.
Good news for those with blemishes on their driving record: they may not remain forever. Entries may remain visible on your record for three to five years depending on your state and moving violation. For example, in Texas, it would take three years for a speeding ticket to drop off, whereas if you lived in Kansas, you’d have to wait for five for a major offense. However, severe violations, like driving under the influence, can remain on your permanent record.
What Does a Clean Driving Record Mean?
A clean driving record means you haven’t had any points, accidents or moving violations recently added to your driving record — typically within the past three to five years. Here is what a clean driving record looks like:
- No at-fault car accidents
- No license points
- No traffic-related convictions
- No moving violations
- No recent claims
- No criminal convictions
Your driving record will only show traffic-related offenses and will not include non-moving violations.
Get Personalized Car Insurance Quotes Here
How Do I Get a Clean Driving Record?
You can get a clean driving record by steering clear of accidents, tickets and other moving violations within a specified period — generally three to five years. The exact timeframe can vary from state to state.
If you have a mark on your driving record, you can wait for the points to fall off your record. For example, a speeding violation may fall off your record after three years. However, a serious offense, like a DUI, may take 10 years to drop off or even stay permanent depending on your state. In most states, only official tickets are registered, not verbal or written warnings.
5 Tips To Remove Points From Your Driver’s License
Some states may allow drivers to reduce points on their driver’s license, which may include completing a defensive driving course or even disputing your ticket. Here are some ways you can remove points from your license:
- Take a defensive driving course: Many states will allow you to take a state-approved driver’s education course to subtract points from your DMV record. This course will provide tips on defensive driving, including maintaining a safe distance with the car in front of you and scanning the road ahead. Taking this course may also qualify you for a defensive driver discount with your insurer.
- Wait for your points to drop off: If your state doesn’t have a way to reduce points or if your violation is not eligible, you may just have to wait until your points expire. Points on minor violations may drop off after only one year in some states. However, more severe violations may stay on longer or indefinitely — a DUI violation can remain on your permanent driving record, for instance.
- Avoid accidents and obey traffic laws: The best long-term strategy for getting (and maintaining) a clean driving record is to avoid accidents and traffic violations altogether. Do your best to obey traffic laws, drive defensively and remain calm and alert while driving. Otherwise, additional points against your record may result in a suspended license.
- Fight the ticket: You can contest your ticket to avoid points being added to your driving record. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may want to consult a traffic ticket lawyer.
- Request a deferment: Drivers who just received their tickets can potentially ask the court for a deferment. If it is granted, they must pay a fee and stay ticket-free within the deferment period. If the driver maintains a clean driving record during that deferment period, the ticket will be dismissed.
Since each state has its own rules and regulations, you should contact your state DMV to understand your state’s point system. For most states, points disappear after one or a few years, assuming you stay accident- and violation-free. However, drivers should still note that severe violations may remain on their permanent driving record, unless expunged.
Does a Clean Driving Record Impact Your Insurance Rates?
A clean driving record can help you save money on your car insurance premiums. A ticket- and moving violation-free history tells insurers that you’re a low-risk driver — lower risk translates into lower rates. Conversely, someone with a DUI violation and several speeding tickets will pay higher premiums to reflect their higher risk.
Any traffic ticket or moving violation can increase your insurance rates. This increase is called a premium surcharge. Insurers calculate the surcharge by considering several factors:
- Severity of the most recent traffic offense
- Number of offenses on your record
- Length of time since your last offense
- Location of the violation (e.g., school zone, construction site)
- Number of claims recently filed
Your driving record may also affect your employment opportunities. A potential employer may pull your driving record if the position requires driving, such as transporting inventory or traveling to client locations. If your driving record has multiple blemishes, they may pass on your application because high-risk drivers can increase their commercial auto policy rates considerably.
How Can I Check if I Have a Clean Driving Record?
You can go to your state’s DMV and request a motor vehicle report (MVR). If you’ve recently gotten a moving violation, been in an accident or started paying a higher car insurance rate, you should check your MVR for accuracy and see how long these offenses will be visible.
How Far Back Does Your Driving Record Go?
There is a difference between your permanent driving record and the history your insurance company or employer can access. Some states enforce a permanent driving record, which carries all of your accidents and traffic offenses, but may limit access for insurance companies and employers to the past three to seven years. For insurers, this is called an insurance record.
What Should I Do if There Are Errors on My Driving Record?
If you review your MVR and notice an error, you should file a dispute with your state’s DMV. While every state has its own requirements, you typically need to complete and submit a form to the DMV, which will ask questions about your vehicle information, driver’s license and the error you are disputing.
For example, the California DMV may take four to six weeks just to respond to your request. It may take additional time to approve or deny the correction.
Get Personalized Car Insurance Quotes Here
If you’re facing a rate hike due to an accident or a traffic violation, shopping around can help you save on car insurance. Each insurer has its own criteria for calculating auto rates, so a different carrier may offer the same coverage but apply a lower surcharge. You can enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to get free car insurance quotes in your area.
- Drive Safely. “Texas Traffic Ticket.” Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.
- Driver Solutions. “Kansas Driving Records.” Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.
- National College for DUI Defense. “Missouri DWI Laws.” Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.
- State of California DMV. “DL 207, Driver License Record Correction Request.” Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.